MAD MAX: FURY ROAD

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MAD MAX: FURY ROAD

The title card may read Mad Max but Fury Road belongs to Charlize Theron's Imperator Furiosa. George Miller has decided not to dwell too much on Max Rockatansky in his return to the silver screen; after all, he has been the star of three, self-titled films and, perhaps wisely, Miller instead focuses more on the crazy characters and insane wasteland that surrounds Max. The film does begin with Max, alone and broken once again, haunted by the memories of those whose lives he's tried and failed to save in the past. He's devolved almost entirely into a creature focused on survival alone. Captured by a roaming gang of hunters, he's taken to their home citadel and, thanks to his handy "universal donor" blood type, he's designated a "living blood bank" to the irradiated War Boys of water despot Immortam Joe.

It's not long before run down War Boy Nux (Hoult) literally drags Max and his "high octane crazy blood", via the IV connecting the two, on a search for Theron's bad-ass Imperator, formerly in Immortam Joe's employ, now on the run in Joe's loaded for bear "War-Rig" for unknown reasons.

Then... the chase begins... and well, it doesn't really end. Miller has taken the tanker escape section from the 1981's Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior, the train chase from 1985's Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome and smashed them together in a brutal mix of metal and flesh, stretching the resultant paste into an entire film. The War-Rig rarely stops rolling for more than a few minutes, relentlessly pursued by Immortan Joe's crew and new bunches of post-apocalyptic nutters every few miles, from places like The Gun Farm or Gas Town. Miller takes us on a demented tour of his cursed earth, very lightly sketching out how all these people survive, their politics and economy, using just the characters’ names and their tribes’ backgrounds, looks and distinctive speech. The pace is broken up at times by pit stops, but this is essentially once big long chase movie, which some may find wearing.

The battles are fantastic, with new methods of attacking/boarding/defending a big rig being attempted every few minutes, with losses and victories on both sides along the way. As usual the vehicles look fantastically demented (as do their occupants), and some of the dodgier looking CG elements from the trailers look a lot more polished here. There does seem to be a weird habit at times of speeding up the footage slightly, perhaps a choice emphasising the madness of Max and his world or a dodgy projector at the screening? The chases are lent a new air of bloody reality with CG bodies being thrown or falling from moving vehicles, still wriggling and scrabbling for life rather than the crash test dummies of previous films.

Tom Hardy grunts and mumbles his way through the first half of the film, having apparently been left alone with his ghosts in the wilds for too long. Theron on the other hand carries the film, purposeful, sympathetic without appearing weak, and she carries the emotion of the whole enterprise (along with her "charges"). Max is mostly one note, utterly focused on getting away, not daring to hope. Reintroducing the character through the eyes of others may turn out to be a good choice, and hopefully Hardy will have much more to do in the rumoured Mad Max: Furiosa and its three rumoured sequels. Maybe the original Max, Mel Gibson, could also turn up in a cameo there, because he certainly doesn't here.

Max himself and some of the villains may be thinly sketched, but Fury Road is definitely worth the cost of gasoline to go and see.

INFO: MAD MAX: FURY ROAD / CERT:15 / DIRECTOR: GEORGE MILLER / SCREENPLAY: GEORGE MILLER, BRENDAN MCCARTHY, NICK LATHOURIS / STARRING: TOM HARDY, CHARLIZE THERON, NICHOLAS HOULT, HUGH KEAYS-BYRNE, ROSIE HUNTINGTON-WHITELEY / RELEASE DATE: MAY 14TH

Expecting Rating: 9 out of 10

Actual Rating:
 

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